If you’re a coffee lover, you know that the quality of your espresso shot depends on various factors, one of which is the portafilter basket.
Choosing the right portafilter basket can make all the difference in the flavor and consistency of your espresso shot.
In this guide, I will explain everything you need to know about portafilter baskets. Whether you’re a home barista or a professional, this guide will help you find the perfect portafilter basket to take your espresso game to the next level.
The Diameter of Portafilters
Portafilter sizes change depending on the type of espresso machine and the manufacturer.
However, many commercial and high-end home espresso machines utilize portafilters with a 58mm diameter, the most typical size.
Although these are less frequent, some machines may employ a smaller or bigger diameter, such as 54mm, 51mm or 60mm.
What you need to know about the portafilter sizes is that every 58 mm filter basket can fit in every 58 mm portafilter handle. And the other sizes 54, 60, or whatever size it is will not fit into a 58 mm portafilter. So you must keep the size in mind while buying a portafilter.
Ensure the portafilter size matches the espresso maker and always confirm compatibility by reviewing the manufacturer’s specs for your machine and portafilter.
Different sizes of Portafilter Baskets
Portafilter basket sizes vary according to shot volume. The most common basket sizes are single, double, and triple shots.
Most commercial and home Espresso machines come with single and double-shot filter baskets, triple-shot baskets are very rarely used.
- Single Basket: This is the smallest filter basket, which holds around 8-10 grams of coffee for a standard espresso shot of 1-1.25 ounces.
- Double Basket: A double shot basket typically holds around 14-18 grams of coffee and is designed to make a double shot of espresso. This is the most used filter basket, especially in the USA.
There are many different sizes of double shot baskets available, ranging from 14g to 18g. As some Baristas like to pull a double shot with 14 grams, while other Baristas use 18g.
- Triple Basket: Triple shot baskets are typically used in commercial-grade espresso machines and are less commonly found in home espresso machines. It can accommodate around 20-22 grams of coffee.
Also read: Single vs Double Espresso
Why Does portafilter basket size matter?
When brewing Espresso most of the resistance is created by the puck of coffee grounds.
But the filter basket is also responsible for creating resistance. The number of holes and the size of the holes in the basket influence the force of the pressurized water flowing through it.
In other words, 12 grams of coffee will require more resistance from the basket while 16 grams will require less. If you keep the basket the same, and brew 16 grams of coffee, you would have to grind it much coarser to maintain a comparable flow rate and brewing time.
And coarser grind size can lead to other problems like too much acidic or watery tasting shot.
That’s why you should follow the amount mentioned on the filter basket. Dosing 9 grams of coffee in a double shot filter basket designed for 16 grams will not deliver the best-tasting shot and it will also result in a wet coffee puck.
And overloading the filter basket can result in Espresso channeling as the water naturally tends to follow the path of least resistance from the shower screen.
Pressurized And Non-Pressurized Filters
Espresso machines usually come with two types of filter baskets: pressurized and non-pressurized.
Non Pressurized Portafilters
Non-pressurized portafilters are most commonly used in commercial espresso machines and require some practice and skill to use effectively.
If you want to level up your Barista skills and want best tasting shot of coffee always use Non-pressurized filter baskets.
One of the advantages of using a non-pressurized portafilter is that it offers more control over the brewing process, allowing the user to fine-tune the espresso flavor and tailor it to their preferences.
However, non-pressurized portafilters require some practice and skill to use effectively, and the user must have a good understanding of the espresso brewing process to achieve consistent, high-quality shots of espresso.
Pressurized Portafilter Basket
The pressurized portafilter basket comes with entry-level espresso machines to create a pseudo crema layer. It is a good option for beginners but won’t result in a best-tasting shot of Espresso.
A pressurized filter basket does not rely on the coffee to build pressure. Instead, it only has one tiny hole for the coffee to exit. It ensures proper pressure is created in the basket regardless of small tamping or grinding inconsistencies.
Pressurized portafilters have two walls with a small hole in the second wall that creates resistance in the brewing process, which helps to maintain a consistent pressure level.
This mechanism allows the espresso to be brewed with pre-ground coffee, eliminating the need for Espresso dialing in process.
If you take your Espresso seriously throw away the pressurized portafilter as soon as as possible.
However, a pressurized filter basket can be a good option in three cases
- You are a complete beginner and don’t know anything about Espresso grind sizes
- You want just a drinkable espresso for now.
- You are using pre-ground coffee of ESE coffee pods.
For serious coffee lovers like me; Do yourself a favor and invest in a good quality coffee grinder and Always use non-pressurized portafilter baskets.
Spouted And Naked Portafilters
Spouted and naked portafilters are two types of espresso portafilters that differ in their design.
Naked or bottomless portafilter
A bottomless portafilter allows you to see the entire espresso process from the beginning to the end. It’s like taking the scenic route through the espresso-making process, where you can admire the beauty of the crema.
If you are serious about Espresso go NAKED!
By being able to see the extraction as it happens, naked portafilters will definitely improve your brewing technique.
If there is a nice even stream of coffee coming out of the exact middle of the portafilter basket you are doing all good.
The presence of spurts or dual streams from the bottom less portafilter basket indicates espresso channeling, and you must adjust the tamping pressure or grind size distribution in that case.
Traditionally, the most commonly used portafilter is the spouted portafilter, which has a spout at the bottom that allows the espresso to flow into a cup.
The spout helps to distribute the espresso evenly and reduces the risk of spills or messes.
Although you can clean spouted Portafilters more easily, and there is no chance of coffee spilling, you are unable to see the brewing process and to diagnose a channeling problem.
Looking for a new Portafilter? Here are some tips
If you’re in the market for a new portafilter, there are a few things to consider before making a purchase. Here are some tips to help you find the right one:
Choose the Right Size
The size of your portafilter may not be a huge concern since the diameter is typically standardized at 58mm for commercial-style portafilters. However, the group head some manufacturers are only adaptable with certain sizes.
So it’s important to read the size of your machine carefully
Another thing to consider here is some 58 mm portafilter baskets are compatible with all the machine while some are not because of some changes in orientation and width and height.
Material also Matters
The most common materials used for portafilter baskets are stainless steel and brass.
Stainless steel is a durable and corrosion-resistant material that is commonly used in portafilter baskets. It is easy to clean and maintain, and can withstand high temperatures and pressure. These can also be easily replaced if needed.
Brass is another material commonly used in portafilter baskets. It is a dense and durable material that is excellent at retaining heat, which can help to improve the consistency of espresso shots.
Personally I prefer Brass portafilter baskets as they offer greater consistency. Cheaper plastic or aluminum baskets are also available but I won’t recommend them.
The Orientation of Handle
It is also important to consider the angle of the portafilter’s handle. Portafilters are available in straight and angled shapes.
Straight Portafilter: In a straight portafilter, the handle is in line with the basket. Straight portafilters are more commonly used in home espresso machines, as they are typically smaller, widely available and affordable.
Angled Portafilter: In an angled portafilter, the handle is at an angle to the basket. Angled portafilters are typically used in commercial espresso machines, as they provide better ergonomics and comfort for baristas who need to pull multiple shots of espresso in a row. Additionally, the angle of the handle can make it easier to tamp the espresso evenly and consistently.
I personally prefer angled portafilter since it allows the filter basket to sit horizontally when placed on the surface, making tamping easier and efficient.
- A single spout portafilter has one outlet for the espresso shot to flow through. For personal use in home settings, a single-spout portafilter is commonly used.
- A double-spout portafilter has two outlets for the espresso shot to flow through. These portafilters are most commonly used in commercial settings as it allows to prepare two espresso shots simultaneously.
The choice between a single and double spout portafilter will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the user. However, I would recommend you to go for naked portafilter instead.
So that’s all you need to know about about the types of portafilter basket. I hope this guide have answered all your questions related to espresso portafilters.
Investing in a high-quality portafilter basket can significantly improve the flavor of your espresso shot. All portafilter looks same but some are far better than others.
Last but not least, if you are serious about espresso, get yourself a Non-pressurized and Naked portafilter basket made of brass or steel .